Sunday, January 15, 2017

Indiana RFRA Not Defense To Tax Evasion

In Tyms-Bey v. State of Indiana, (IN App., Jan. 13, 2017), an Indiana appeals court, in a 2-1 decision, held that a state RFRA defense cannot be raised in a tax evasion prosecution.  According to the majority opinion:
as a matter of law ..., in the context of Indiana’s RFRA, there is a compelling governmental interest in collecting income tax revenue. Moreover, we hold as a matter of law that the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling interest is uniform and mandatory participation in the income tax system. There are no facts that [defendant] could proffer with respect to his exercise of religion that would not be overcome by the State’s compelling interest and the means used by the State in furthering that interest. 
Judge Najam dissenting said in part:
Tyms-Bey’s alleged RFRA defense may ultimately not succeed, but he is entitled to his day in court. The majority’s holding that, in effect, Tyms-Bey has not stated a claim under RFRA and that he is not even entitled to present evidence in support of his alleged defense is too quick to dispose of Tyms-Bey’s claim and denies him the particularized adjudication that is expressly afforded to him by Indiana’s RFRA.